Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Literalist vs nuanced 'tafsir'

by Mahmood Sanglay from The Brunei Times

My concern here is not with the violent extremism typically associated with the Wahhabi-Salafi tradition of Islam. It is with the perversion of one of the most attractive attributes of the divine writ ... "If we were to take every Qur'anic passage, statement or expression in its outward, literal sense and disregard the possibility of its being an allegory, a metaphor or a parable, we would be offending against the very spirit of the divine writ." This offence, committed by the Wahhabi-Salafi translations of the Qur'an is evident in two volumes vigorously marketed by the Saudis. The one is by al-Hilali and Muhsin Khan, published by Darussalam, Riyadh in 1997. The other is by four anonymous committees, published by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Endowments in 1989, who adapted the work of Abdullah Yusuf Ali after "revising and correcting" his translation ... Alas, the Wahhabis-Salafis are not much into light and colour when it comes to reading the Qur'an. They prefer black and white. The Wahhabi-Salafi no-nuance approach makes provision for only a superficial interpretation of the Qur'an.

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